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ASEAN warns against ‘miscalculation,’ ‘serious confrontation’ over Taiwan

PHNOM PENH — Southeast Asia’s regional bloc ASEAN warned on Thursday of a risk that volatility caused by tensions in the Taiwan Strait could lead to “miscalculation, serious confrontation, open conflicts and unpredictable consequences among major powers”.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)  made the remarks in a statement from foreign ministers after its chair, Cambodia, had urged all sides to de-escalate tension over Taiwan.

The meeting in Phnom Penh of the 10-nation bloc, which is being attended by a string of other countries including China and the United States, has been overshadowed by developments in Taiwan following the visit by the U.S. house speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“ASEAN stands ready to play a constructive role in facilitating peaceful dialogue between all parties,” ASEAN said as it called for maximum restraint and for parties to refrain from provocative action.

The Pelosi trip, the highest-level US visit to self-ruled Taiwan in 25 years, has sparked outrage in China, which has responded with a burst of military exercises and other activity in the area.

Southeast Asian countries tend to tread a careful line in trying to balance their relations with China and the United States, wary of getting in between the super powers.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in comments after talks with his Indian counterpart Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, said he had been able to compare notes with a close partner “as we head into these very important ASEAN meetings”.

“We have a shared vision together for a free and open Indo-Pacific,” said Mr. Blinken, who is not expected to hold a meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Cambodia.

Mr. Blinken, who is among 27 foreign ministers set to join an ASEAN Regional Forum security meeting on Friday, said his meeting with Mr. Jaishankar had covered “the situation in Sri Lanka, Burma, and a number of other hot spots”. — Reuters